Age-gap relationship pros and cons as Dr Hilary Jones shares how he makes his work

Dr Hilary Jones, wearing a black suit jacket, white shirt and red tie, and his wife Dee Thresher, wearing a red gown, attend ITV Palooza! at The Royal Festival Hall
Dr Hilary Jones and his wife Dee Thrasher have a 17-year age gap between them. (Getty Images)

Dr Hilary Jones has shared how his 17-year age gap with his wife Dee Thrasher helps keep him "grounded and fit".

The 70-year-old television doctor detailed how he and Thrasher make their relationship work despite their age difference during a recent appearance on the How to be 60 with Kaye Adams podcast.

Asked how he "keeps up" with 53-year-old Thrasher’s active lifestyle, Dr Jones said he does not "feel any pressure at all" to do so and that the couple enjoy exercising together.

"I really enjoy the things we do together, so we'll go walking on the hill. We're always walking and keeping busy," he said. "It’s not a competitive thing at all. We do different types of exercise. I do gym, I still play a little bit of squash, and I do the heavy lifting in the garden, and she does the lighter stuff."

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Dr Hilary Jones, wearing a black suit, white shirt and red tie, poses with his wife Dee Thrasher, who is wearing a red gown
Dr Hilary Jones says he does not feel 'pressure' to keep up with his wife Dee Thrasher's fit lifestyle, but she helps keep him active. (Getty Images)

Dubbing Thrasher a "pilates queen", Dr Jones added: "She's 17 years younger than me and that's exactly how it should be… She's pretty complimentary to me, I hope she means it. She always says, 'I never consider you 70' and I don't behave like I'm 70. I'm still a bit of a child inside."

While Dr Jones' age-gap relationship is going swimmingly, others have succumbed to the challenges that come with it.

In April, Madonna, 63, split from her boyfriend Ahlamalik Williams, 28, after nearly four years together. It was reported that the break-up occurred as it was "hard to keep the relationship alight", but the pair remained "on good terms".

Read more: How long should you wait before moving in together? (Yahoo Life UK, 4-min read)

Ahlamalik Williams and Madonna pose together on the carpet ahead of the World Premiere of Madonna's Madame X
Madonna and her former boyfriend Ahmalik Williams had a large age gap between them when they dated for four years, but split up earlier in 2023.

Age-gap relationships: the pros and cons

Lisa Spitz, counsellor and psychotherapist, tells Yahoo Life UK that there are both benefits and disadvantages to relationships with a large age gap.

While she says generally "too much difference isn't great" she also believes there is "opportunity" within an age-gap in a relationship.

"There's something very beneficial about mixing people in different age groups as you get the opportunity to see the world in a different way, with the wealth of experience meeting naivety and joyfulness."

Young man and a mature woman are having a romantic weekend at the spa. They are sitting by the pool wearing cozy bathrobes.
There are both pros and cons to age gap relationships. (Getty Images)

However, she explains that sometimes there can be a "mismatch of different life experiences".

"The older partner may be looking for someone to ‘mould’ and this could prove problematic as the younger partner matures and potentially wants different things," she adds.

She also highlights the potential for problems with partners being at different life stages.

"The younger partner may want children and the older of the two already has family or doesn’t want any kids," she adds. "There could also be a pressure to perform sexually when the woman is menopausal or the man has prostate issues."

Watch: 'We have a 40 year age gap but my girlfriend isn't a gold digger - we're mad about each other'

People in age-gap relationships also often have to face more external judgement than other relationships.

"We get really hung up about age because we have in our head what is socially acceptable in our culture," says Spitz.

"I think there is the classic thought process that a much younger man/woman who is with an older man/woman is a gold digger, we wonder what they have in common and how long it could last."

Percy Gibson and Joan Collins attend the 2022 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Dinner Arrivals at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on March 27, 2022 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Robert Smith/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
Percy Gibson, 57, and Joan Collins, 88, have been married since 2002. (Getty Images)

There are also very different attitudes towards older women dating younger men and younger men dating older women.

"No one questions the sanity of Richard Gere with his much younger partner or Simon Cowell or Rod Stewart but Katie Price or even Joan Collins are often seen as cougars," Spitz says.

"I think attitudes are changing towards women with younger partners and there have been some very successful younger men/older women relationships – Joan Collins and Percy Gibson; Brigitte and Emmanuel Macron to name two but the fact that people still feel the need to comment shows we have a long way to go."

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Simon Cowell and Lauren Silverman attend the Shooting Star Ball in aid of Shooting Star Children's Hospices at the Royal Lancaster Hotel on November 12, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)
Simon Cowell, 62, and fiancee Lauren Silverman, 44. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)

Age-gap relationships being successful can also depend on whether friends and family show support or not with Spritz urging kindness if a friend or loved-one starts a relationship with a large difference.

"Keep your judgement to yourself and understand your feelings around it," she says.

She also suggests taking time to get to know the new partner so you can make a true assessment of the person.

And if things don't work out she advises being there to pick up the pieces.

So, is age really just a number?

"I think if you find someone you love and want to build a future with, have common values, expectations and great communication they have a good chance of working," Spitz concludes.